Short Stuff

Eau Claire natives host original short film program

Lauren Fisher

BLOODY GREAT. Behind the scenes of Punch Me, a film directed by Tim Schwagel where two girls (poorly) rob a gas station. The film will be part of the Lost Boy Pictures Shorts Program on Sept. 5 and 6 at Micon Cinemas.
BLOODY GREAT. Behind the scenes of Punch Me, a film directed by Tim Schwagel where two girls (poorly) rob a gas station. The film will be part of the Lost Boy Pictures Shorts Program on Sept. 5 and 6 at Micon Cinemas.

An awkward, thoughtful second date.  A look at love at first sight.  An escape.  An obsession.  A robbery.  An imagined night out with friends …  On Sept. 5 and 6, four filmmakers from Eau Claire will present six short films at the Micon Downtown Cinema, evoking laughter, warm-fuzzies, fear, and everything in between. It’s called the Lost Boy Pictures Shorts Program, and tickets for this locally produced romp are on sale now.

Ben Kreibich and Mack Hastings of Lost Boy Pictures (which produced the web series Fragments in 2018) are based out of Minnesota. Tim Schwagel is a freelance filmmaker working out of Eau Claire, and Reanna Madson designs props for UW-Eau Claire theater productions. They all act a little, film a little, edit a little, or direct in each of the six films that will be featured.

“I feel like we are an arts community, but there’s not been much of a film community. It will hopefully bring in more film opportunities, or showcase Eau Claire.” Reanna Madson, filmmaker behind Avelina

The crew of filmmakers, a group of grads from Eau Claire high schools, is now spread between the Twin Cities and the Chippewa Valley, but closely connected by a love for production and a chill vibe that can turn even the most hectic shooting day into a streamlined, supportive, productive session.

“We’re all just super positive and supportive,” Schwagel said. In his experience, ego can be a tense factor in filmmaking, but Madson, Kreibich, and Hastings keep a level head even when things get wild. Just three weeks ago, they had to reshoot a scene for Mack Hastings’ Shy Bob to employ a special effect. With just over a week until the shorts program, Schwagel was doing semi-final edits on Madson’s Avelina.

Madson is a relatively new addition to the program, which has been in the works since the spring. Avelina was shot on the UW-Eau Claire campus in early August to manifest Madson’s inspiration to use a particular special effect and to incorporate a dance number into a short.

“It was a very fast thing that kind of happened.” Madson, a theater arts and dance student, said.  It’s her first serious stab at direction, and she’s been blowing through emotions – sometimes she thought things were going well, and other times, she was convinced the film would be terrible. On the next look, she would feel great about the process.

She hopes that Eau Claire’s enthusiasm about local arts and media will translate to short film, and that the group will see a good showing for the program. “I feel like we are an arts community, but there’s not been much of a film community,” Madson said.  “It will hopefully bring in more film opportunities, or showcase Eau Claire.”

There is very little formal training in filmmaking among the crew, Schwagel said. But that can be an advantage in creativity and experimentation. He began making films in middle school. 

“You don’t feel so nailed down to a bunch of rules,” he said. When people start a craft young with little formal instruction, he said, every attempt is an experiment, and every now and then they discover something very cool. Add in experience and instruction, and you get a filmmaker with a unique approach.


Tickets for the Lost Boy Pictures Shorts Program are on sale now at www.miconcinemas.com. They’re $9, and include a post-film Q&A with the filmmakers.  Proceeds from the screenings will go toward entering shorts in film festivals in the Chippewa Valley and throughout the country.

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